By Marc Normandin
Christmastime is upon us, which, means all the little sportswriters on the "Nice" list will benefit from baseball front offices shutting down for the holiday, while those on the "Naughty" side are waiting to see if Masahiro Tanaka really does get posted on Christmas morning, as some are now reporting.
While the heavy lifting of the offseason has passed for most, few if any teams are actually finished constructing their 2014 rosters as of this moment. Our job is to figure out what each of the clubs still needs, division-by-division and team-by-team. No matter what team you're rooting for, we're all dreaming of what we want for Christmas.
Red Sox: Boston is going to love waking up to find Tanaka posted, because it's exactly the present they wanted. Once the Japanese ace makes his way stateside, the rest of the pitching market will begin to sign, and eventually, one team or another will find itself short of a pitcher. That's when the Red Sox can come calling with Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster or maybe even Felix Doubront, depending on the desperation of the trade partner in question.
Rays: I could be mean and say "a new ballpark lease" or "a new ballpark" or "gift cards," but it's a little early for this piece to get snarky. No, what the Rays really wish for is a legitimate trade partner for David Price, one that will net them a sleigh full of prospects. Possibly driven by Tajiuan Walker. This -- meaning the perpetual trading of stars for new waves of prospects -- unfortunately is how the Rays have to operate, but the key is that it does work.
Orioles: The Orioles would like a Turbo Deluxe Cyborg Grant Balfour, with adamantium skeleton and karate-chop action. They will settle for Fernando Rodney.
Yankees: It's difficult to tell what the Yankees want, since they themselves barely seem to know anymore. They wanted to be under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold, but then signed Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, and the last of those reportedly happened only because they were a few million away from inking the even more expensive Shin-Soo Choo. What they need is another pitcher, as too many questions surround an aging Hiroki Kuroda, an unproven Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia, whose poor 2013 may or may not just be a blip. Tanaka would do, of course, especially if Plan 189 Million is truly dead. If they're willing to spend, even Matt Garza would fit.
Blue Jays: Toronto would like Travis d'Arnaud back, as well as everything they gave up to the Marlins to acquire Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle. While they're at it, they would also like Mike Napoli back, as they never got a chance to know the man. OK, OK, realistically, the Blue Jays need health, and lots of it. Their roster has plenty of talent, and they're a bit stuck in terms of acquiring more, given the lack of available free-agent help and all of the prospects they've traded already.
Tigers: The Tigers remade their roster after losing in the ALCS, and the goal seems to be extending Max Scherzer, to open this core's window of contention a little further. Finalizing that deal heads the off-season list at this stage, as this club already is a top contender.
Indians: The Indians need Ubaldo Jimenez's market to never materialize, so they can re-sign someone who can soak up some innings. That, or they need someone else to seriously overpay for Jimenez, granting Cleveland a pass for letting him walk while netting them a first-round pick.
Royals: The additions of Omar Infante, Norichika Aoki and Jason Vargas help the Royals significantly, in part because those three players are slated to fill in holes that cost Kansas City wins in 2013. They still need another starter, though, or else Wade Davis might hold them back from contention once more.
Twins: Minnesota's plan isn't to succeed now, as they have the prospects to build a future contender waiting in the wings. Having already signed some major league pitchers to fill out the rotation, the Twins' biggest wish is that Miguel Sano won't need Tommy John surgery after sustaining an elbow injury in winter ball.
White Sox: GM Rick Hahn has already made it a merry Christmas on the south side by acquiring various top-100 prospects since last July's trade deadline. Chicago's system is in need of that injection of youth and talent, and if they can find any more takers for some of their extraneous parts, Hahn will be ecstatic.
Athletics: It is impossible to shop for Billy Beane, because he spent the entire Christmas shopping season buying everything he wants. Instead, we'll shop for O.co Coliseum and give the park some buckets and mops, since you might have heard a little something about its plumbing problems.
Rangers: With Shin-Soo Choo signed and Prince Fielder acquired, giving the team two good hitters plus an open spot for über-prospect Jurickson Profar, the Rangers seemingly are finished with their winter. Chances are good they will bid $20 million for Masahiro Tanaka's rights and then offer a competitive contract for his services out of nowhere, because it's what they do.
Angels: The lineup has plenty of thump even sans Trumbo, but the rotation still needs work. Tyler Skaggs was a step in the right direction, but he's no sure thing, and neither are Garrett Richards and Hector Santiago. Anything that keeps them from more Joe Blanton would be a win on Christmas.
Mariners: Another pitcher to keep the M's from relying on three kids, one of them Erasmo Ramirez, would be lovely. A legitimate backup plan and/or replacement for Dustin Ackley in center field would also calm some northwestern nerves.
Astros: Houston has spent some money this winter, and there were rumors they would have spent more on someone as significant as Choo, had the chance presented itself. Steps forward for their youth and a strong 2014 draft are their likely concerns at this stage of rebuilding.
Braves: The Braves lost Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, putting significant pressure on rebounds from B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla in the lineup, and on growth from Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and (a hopefully healthy) Brandon Beachy. The talent is there for them to win, but at this stage, hoping it works out is all that's left on the list.
Nationals: Washington quietly has reloaded, adding bench and bullpen depth along with Doug Fister. Their wish list is short and not offseason-specific: Ryan Zimmerman needs to get his defense to a working level, Adam LaRoche needs to justify the two-year deal they gave him last winter, and Anthony Rendon needs to thrive at second base.
Mets: The Mets still need a shortstop, and Stephen Drew should be that shortstop. Sure, there are others available at the position a year from now, when Matt Harvey hopefully will return from Tommy John surgery, but the improvements New York already has made mean that a protected first-round pick in the 2015 draft is unlikely. They might as well surrender a third-round pick for Drew now and get it over with.
Phillies: Won't somebody please trade for Jonathan Papelbon?
Marlins: A team to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia to? No, too easy. Also, that's next year.
Cardinals: Nothing. They brought up the likes of Michael Wacha and Kolten Wong during the season, then rearranged their entire lineup and defense with trades and signings to fill in the few holes they had. It's boring, sure, but it's true.
Pirates: The Pirates would very much like A.J. Burnett to make a decision about his future, and also for that decision to involve pitching for the Pirates in 2014. Reassurance that their gift receipt for Edinson Volquez will remain valid would also be appreciated.
Reds: The Reds couldn't hit well last year, when they still had Shin-Soo Choo, so their primary wish at this point is for Tony Cingrani to keep doing what he's been doing on the mound, and for Billy Hamilton to step into center field to improve, if nothing else, the team's defense. If they can find a trade partner for Brandon Phillips that helps them hit a little better, they'll take it.
Brewers: The Brewers have one simple wish, and it's for Ryan Braun to remain eligible for all 162 games of the 2014 season.
Cubs: Chicago would like an incredibly prospect-rich offer for Jeff Samardzija to come across their desk, because he can help their cause best as trade bait.
Dodgers: The Dodgers want to be able to trade one of their expensive outfielders -- most likely Andre Ethier -- and bring in David Price, because they can. That, or Masahiro Tanaka -- again, because they can. Someday, the Dodgers will stop being cute and start being heels, and then all of this won't all seem as fun anymore.
Padres: San Diego brought in some depth for the rotation and outfield, but what they need most of all is health. If Cory Luebke, Casey Kelly, Joe Wieland and Josh Johnson all can come back healthy, the rotation is going to have plenty of quality options.
Giants: The Giants' entire offseason was gambles, so at this point all they're hoping for is that their two Tims (Lincecum and Hudson) were worth their non-tiny deals, and also that Mike Morse has some pop left in that wrist of his. The Dodgers are dominant, but a Giants team hitting its ceiling is absolutely a playoff contender.
Rockies: A healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, a Justin Morneau revival at altitude and no reason to ever need Franklin Morales to start, now that he's back in the place that doomed his curveball.
Marc Normandin writes and edits for Over the Monster, a Boston Red Sox blog, as well as SB Nation's baseball hub. He's one of many behind the e-book The Hall of Nearly Great and has written for Baseball Prospectus, ESPN and others. You can follow him on Twitter at @Marc_Normandin.